How to Use a Microwave Safely
The microwave oven is an invaluable tool for the home cook. It allows us to reheat and thaw food in a matter of minutes, but in order to get the best from them, it’s vital that a few basic safety measures are observed. Let’s examine some of them.
Food Safety When Cooking with Microwaves
Just because you’re going to be cooking in a microwave doesn’t mean the usual rules of cooking safely don’t apply. Harmful microbes are invisible and intangible but if they’re not accounted for during cooking, they can easily spread to contaminate food.
When you’re preparing food, you’ll need to be sure that all of the surfaces you use are properly cleaned, including the interior of your microwave.
It’s also essential that food is cooked through. For larger cuts of meat you might want to lower the power and increase the time – to ensure the heat is spread as uniformly as possible.
When you’re cooking a microwavable meal, you might notice that added to the end of the cooking time is a ‘standing’ time. This helps to ensure that the product is thoroughly cooked – so don’t be tempted to skip it!
Microwave safety dos and don’ts
- Do use materials designated as microwave safe. Even a small amount of aluminium foil can cause a dangerous spark and some plates might heat to the point they crack.
- Don’t use the wrong types of foam plates. Can foam go in a microwave? Yes and no. While some Styrofoam crockery will produce an unpleasant smell of molten plastic when they’re microwaved, others will cope perfectly well. That said, it’s probably best in the long run to use ceramic plates and just do the washing up afterwards.
- Don’t use cold storage containers like margarine tubs and yoghurt cartons. Like some foam plates, these will melt slightly and produce an awful smell.
- Don’t put newspaper in the microwave – while fish and chips traditionally come wrapped in newspaper, placing this packaging in a microwave will expose it to temperatures that will cause the ink to run.
- Don’t use china plates with a metallic trim. In order to create those attractive patterns, some china plates are made using metal parts which can cause sparks in your microwave.
- Don’t eat any food from a container that looks warped after heating. If the container can’t hold its shape, then it’s melting– which probably means that millions of particles of plastic have come away from the sides of the container and are now swimming around your jalfrezi. Don’t take the risk – throw both the container and the food in the bin and make a mental note for next time!